2017 “The Work of the Humanities in a Changing Climate” Projects

Building Sustainable Worlds: Latinx Placemaking in the Midwest

Theresa Delgadillo, Project Leader and Co-PI (The Ohio State University)
Geraldo L. Cadava, Co-PI (Northwestern University)
Claire F. Fox, Co-PI (University of Iowa)
Sonia BasSheva Mañjon, Co-PI (The Ohio State University)
Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Co-PI (Northwestern University)
Karen Mary Davalos (University of Minnesota-Twin Cities)
Delia Fernández (Michigan State University)
Larry LaFountain (University of Michigan)
Sandra Ruiz (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
Ariana A. Ruiz (University of Iowa)
Sergio M. González (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Elena R. Gutiérrez (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Laura M. Fernandez (The Ohio State University)
Leila Vieira de Jesus Gemelli (The Ohio State University)
Tatiana Faria (The Ohio State University)

This research project will bring together scholars from across the Midwest to explore the significance of regional Latinx efforts at placemaking in three cultural arenas: formal and everyday performance; literature and film; and community cultural and arts centers and sites. Our own Midwest-based teaching and research suggests that cultivating a sense of multiple belongings has been crucial for Latinas/os as they build communities that are culturally, economically, and environmentally sustainable. Scholars have noted that Latinas/os became scapegoats and threats in public discourse in new ways over the past sixteen years, and because current anti-Latinx discourse has reached new extremes in recent months, we believe it is crucial to understand how Latinas/os have negotiated intolerance, discrimination, and violence to create physical and cultural homes in the Midwest. The pillars of this project are material, textual, visual, and expressive culture as they relate to placemaking and the creation of sustainable Latinx communities in the Midwest. One the one hand, we want to bring existing practices and projects to the attention of students, scholars, and communities through our research, publication, and events. On the other, we also want to participate in fostering greater awareness and interactions among cultural producers and institutions in our region. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Midwest is a twelve-state region; however, our understanding of the Latinx Midwest recognizes the long history of transregional and transnational identifications that bind many Latinx communities to other parts of the U.S., and to places and countries throughout the Americas. We will investigate cultural forms of expression and organizing that we have witnessed in both rural and urban locations and among diverse Latinx communities that include individuals from multiple national backgrounds and diverse racial, sexual, and gender subjectivities. We will also attend to the ways that Latinas/os interact with African Americans, Native Americans, and immigrants from Europe, Asia, and Africa in the region, because we expect that Latinx Midwest experiences do not merely involve adaptation or assimilation, but also creative transculturation. This research will be conducted from June 2017 through December 2018, with publication in 2019 anticipated.

Legacies of the Enlightenment: Humanity, Nature, and Science in a Changing Climate

Legacies of Englightenment

Valentina Denzel, Project Leader and Co-PI (Michigan State University)
Tracy Rutler, Project Coordinator and Co-PI (Pennsylvania State University)

Legacies of the Enlightenment is a 24-month project, led by Valentina Denzel, Assistant Professor of French at Michigan State University, and by Tracy Rutler, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies and Women’s Studies at Pennsylvania State University, in collaboration with over thirty scholars from various institutions in America, Canada, England and Israel. This project responds to the question how the Enlightenment has come to inform our current concept of humanity and the interrelation of human and non-human. The period of the Enlightenment was a time when the boundaries separating organic and inorganic materials were beginning to crumble, but it was also a time in which the categories that define what constitutes a “normal” human were solidifying. The interrelation of human and non-human that we examine in this project defines how we comprehend, for example environmental pollution, social injustice, racism, sexual orientation, and how a monolithic definition of humanity is challenged by natural catastrophes and epidemics. In order to address these issues efficiently, we have assembled a team of scholars that cuts across disciplines, time periods, and institutions. This interdisciplinary configuration opens up the space for a dialogue on these topics. Our project will consist of a website where scholars and graduate students will collaborate on categories related to the interrelation of human and non-human. Furthermore, Legacies of the Enlightenment will organize a workshop where graduate students and faculty will present research related to the topics of our website, receive feedback, and revise their work into publishable articles.

Crow: the Corpus & Repository of Writing

Crow: The Corpus & Repository of Writing Website

Bradley Dilger, Project Leader and PI (Purdue University)
William Hart-Davidson, Project Coordinator (Michigan State University)
Shelley Staples, Project Consultant (University of Arizona)

Political Ecology as Practice: A Regional Approach to the Anthropocene

Political Ecologies website

Ömür Harmanşah, Project Leader and PI (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Ian G. Baird, Project Coordinator (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Molly Doane (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Ralph Cintron (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Beate Geissler (University of Illinois at Chicago)
David H. Wise (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Javairia Shahid (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Tannya Islas (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Katy Dye (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Alize Arıcan (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Charlie Corwin (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Zhe Yu Lee (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
W. Nathan Green (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Garden for a Changing Climate

Hannah Higgins, Project Leader and PI (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Noah Feinstein, Project Coordinator (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Lorelei Stewart (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Robyn Mericle (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Corinna West (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Alexandra Lakind (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Jenny Kendler, Chicago-based artist

Transmedia Collage: Histories of Violence and Futures of Health on Chicago's South Side

Transmedia College website

Patrick Jagoda, Project Leader and PI (University of Chicago)
Jennifer Brier, Project Coordinator and Co-PI (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Marquez Rhyne (University of Chicago)
Melissa Gilliam (University of Chicago)
Matthew Wizinsky (University of Cincinnati)
Gary Kafer (University of Chicago)
Chelsea Ridley (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Being Human in the Age of Humans: Perspectives from Religion and Ethics

Lisa H. Sideris, Project Leader and PI (Indiana University Bloomington)
Sarah E. Fredericks, Project Coordinator (University of Chicago)
Kyle Powys Whyte, Project Coordinator (Michigan State University)
Celia Deane-Drummond, Project Coordinator (University of Notre Dame)
Liam de los Reyes (University of Notre Dame)

“Being Human in the Age of Humans: Perspectives from Religion and Ethics” is a 3-year project led by Lisa Sideris, Religious Studies, Indiana University, in collaboration with Celia Deane-Drummond, Theology, University of Notre Dame; Sarah Fredericks, University of Chicago Divinity School; and Kyle Powys Whyte, Philosophy, Michigan State University. We argue that discourse on the Anthropocene, which probes the meaning of humanity’s agency within deep-time, evolutionary perspectives, resonates strongly with mythic and religious genres. Scholarship on the Anthropocene remains underdeveloped in these humanities disciplines, despite their potential to analyze, and suggest alternatives to, scientific narratives that dominate Anthropocene and climate change literature. Our primary areas of research include: First, the articulation of alternative Anthropocene narratives. Current discourse on the Anthropocene often envisions humanity as an aggregate entity, collectively driving climate change. This vision is not sufficiently sensitive to environmental injustices across the globe, and global disparities of wealth and accountability. Second, our project seeks to understand the implicit religiosity of Anthropocene narratives and frameworks. Anthropocene storylines often function as religious-like propositions about human nature and the planetary future, exhibiting structural similarities to religious theodicies, epic tales of hubris or forbidden knowledge or apocalypse. Religion scholars are well-positioned to analyze these narrative elements. Third, more work is needed to incorporate indigenous cosmologies and their unique perspectives on the Anthropocene and climate change. For example, human-induced changes to the environment associated with the Anthropocene are not seen as unprecedented by indigenous groups, but rather as a continuation of human-caused degradation introduced through centuries of settler colonialism. Grant activities include collaborative workshops at the University of Chicago and Michigan State that will target emerging areas of scholarship, as well as a larger conference at Indiana University in 2018.